f2017 has been something of a revolution for me. They say there are some years that ask questions and some years that answer them. I feel like almost my whole life has consisted of years that ask questions, an endless whirlwind of who what why. 2017 felt very much like one in which I began to answer some of those questions, and to understand that actually part of the excitement in the journey is to figure out the rest along the way.
I’m a big believer in that the most important thing in life is growth and, as one of my best friends put it: I’m very much on this “self-improvement ting”. On both a personal and a work front, I feel like I’ve increasingly begun living with what feels like far more purpose and confidence, and I feel like such a different person ending the year than I did entering it. But in a: “I never change, I simply become more myself” kind of way. I feel super grateful to be an adult and able to see where the lessons are instead of just thinking it’s the end of the world each time when it invariably isn’t.
2017 taught me…
I think the most important lessons I’ve learned this year are that I (you, we, us) are allowed to want what it is we want. That that’s okay and you’re allowed to accept and act on that belief, minus shame or guilt or whatever other emotion may arise. Because life is too short to live according to what other people – or, what you *think* other people might think of you, so… fuck it.
Getting to that was something I could only have dreamt of this time last year and it makes me want to high five myself that your comfort zone is actually something that is stretchable. How awesome is that.
Another game changer for me has been the understanding that people are not mind readers and they will treat you according to the person you act like you are. That’s a good thing when it comes to inspiring confidence in people and etc but can also be a bad thing when the image you project is not conducive with how you’d like to be treated. If you act like you don’t give a shit, people will start to believe you.
All year I’ve been making the time to fill in a Five Minute Journal every morning and before I go to sleep at night. Every day it asks me things like what I’m grateful for, what I can do to improve the day and I’ve learned that it makes such a big difference to start and end each day like that. Ditto to going to the gym. It makes such a difference to treat my body how it deserves to be treated and give it endorphin boosts on a regular basis. That shit is important for your mental health.
I’ve always been a writer. It’s always been my favourite way to get to know myself. I started writing as a job maybe 7 years ago and in that time it’s done what it’s always done, and both myself as a human and the writing itself have grown as a result.
I’ve written about everything from music to fashion to food, travel and what has quickly and increasingly become my favourite: social commentary. I studied Sociology and Psychology at University and I’ve always been super interested in humans and why we do, think, feel and etc the way that we do. This year I’ve written some really interesting (if I can say so myself!) articles for publications including The New York Post, Refinery29, The Debrief, Success.com and for Grazia’s print magazine. The latter of which while I was an intern at Grazia a few years ago I could only have dreamed of.
Some of my favourite articles I’ve written this year:
Radio & Podcasting
I was also invited on to a bunch of radio shows including BBC 4 Women’s Hour (!), the BBC Asian Network with both Yasser and Preeya Kalidas and Radio 1, where we spoke on everything from the importance of diversity in the mainstream media to providing funny, real takes on everyday problems a modern bi-cultural living in the UK might face.
I was also invited to guest on some cool podcasts including Anthony Anaxagarou’s The Interlocutor, Millie Cotton and Sophie Milner’s Keeping It Candid, as well as The Lifestyle Edit‘s Podcast, One Cuppa Two Sugars and Alex Manzi’s Dreamer’s Disease. (Click through on the hyperlinked names to listen back.) I really enjoyed each and every one, and we had some super interesting conversations, from discussing Munroe Bergdorf and l’Oreal to freelance journalism and more practical tips for how to ‘make it’ in the industry.
Harpers Bazaar Arabia
Hands down one of the coolest things that happened to me this year was I was featured in a double page spread in the August issue of Harpers Bazaar Arabia (!!) as part of a new generation of “globetrotting Arab women”. I have strong ties with my Middle Eastern heritage, as well as with my London upbringing, and so it was such an honour to be included in the magazine, alongside a photoshoot dressed in Chloe (the founder of which was also born in Egypt!). Click through to read the full interview here and behind the scenes video below.
I also featured in a spread in Marie Claire Arabia, and my desert shoot with Flare PR in Egypt (which was so much fun to shoot!) was picked up by Elle Arabia.
Girl Vs Cancer
My homie Lauren Mahon has had quite the shitty year after being diagnosed with breast cancer. In typical Lolli style she decided to do something to combat the stigma around the disease, to allow her to take back some of the control and to portray a positive, inspirational, hopeful – but most importantly honest – image.
So she launched a blog and a range of Tit-Tees, and got together some of her super cool pals, and me!, to front the two campaigns she masterminded, all while undergoing chemo. Check out the first campaign and my chat with Lauren here, and the second campaign here. I will forever be in awe of her for the bravery, humour and determination with which she has faced what she was dealt. The best bit of all… she beat the fucker!
What is it they say? Work hard play hard? Yup I had a lot of fun too this year. I attended some incredible gigs including my new fave 6lack and his headline London show, Stormzy’s hometown glory of a gig, Shakka, of course, as well as getting to watch my throwback Queens TLC perform at a Tiffany & Co. event.
I went to Island Records summer party on Osea Island with my friend AJ and that was INSANE, Soho Farm house with Cointreau was super fun, as was getting to see Rihanna up close (LOL #fangirl) at her Fenty Beauty launch at Harvey Nichols. Google also had some awesome events to celebrate launches for their Pixel. They gifted me so many of their products this year and I have become a total convert.
After kicking off the year in Amsterdam, as of the end of January I spent an incredibly transformative six weeks in Los Angeles. I had the best time ever and I literally cannot overstate the role it played in changing me for the better this year. I wrote about what I learned while living out of my comfort zone here.
This year, three of my best friends got married! I flew to Jordan for my bestie Ons’ gorgeous wedding, Marrakech for Rox’s amazing hen do, followed by a beautiful wedding for my homie Habiba in Egypt. I also spent a bit of time in Ibiza which was faaar more relaxing than the stereotype of it would suggest it would be.
I’ve always loved reading and would spend hours upon days holed up in the library or in my bedroom when I was younger. As I’ve gotten older I seemed to have found it more and more difficult to read for pleasure; this year I changed that and begun waking up in time to carve myself out at least 40 minutes of uninterrupted reading time every morning. I’ve read some seriously incredible books. Some of my fave of which include Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton, The Good Immigrant, Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race, Selfie: How We Became So Self-Obsessed and What It’s Doing To Us as well as Matt Haig’s beautifully written How To Stop Time and Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey.
In 2018 I literally cannot wait to…
All roads have led to a super exciting project that I’ve spent the last few months of this year completely absorbed by. I’m basically finding it impossible to keep it a secret but hopefully I’ll be able to talk about it super soon because it’s pretty much all I can think about / am doing at the moment.
I’m also looking forward to continuing the growth, in all areas of my life. To being a better human, better friend, better all around. To being better at accepting that it’s okay to want what it is I want, and to express that, without fear of looking stupid or weak. I’m in a huge period of transition at the moment, waiting for the above project I mentioned to really kick off, waiting to move in to my new flat all by myself after six amazing years of sharing a flat with my cousin and just shifting, in mind, body and mentality. 2018 I’m ready, let’s do this.
To Growth and Happiness xx